Effect of Polygamy on Women and the Family
A Comparison of Family Functioning, Life and Marital Satisfaction, and Mental Health of Women in Polygamous and Monogamous Marriages
John R. Graham
University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Background: A considerable body of research concludes that the polygamous family structure has an impact on children’s and wives’ psychological, social and family functioning.
Aims: The present study is among the first to consider within the same ethnoracial community such essential factors as family functioning, life satisfaction, marital satisfaction and mental health functioning among women who are in polygamous marriages and women who are in monogamous marriages.
Method: A sample of 352 women participated in this study: 235 (67%) were in a monogamous marriage and 117 (33%) were in a polygamous marriage.
Results: Findings reveal differences between women in polygamous and monogamous marriages. Women in polygamous marriages showed significantly higher psychological distress, and higher levels of somatisation, phobia and other psychological problems. They also had significantly more problems in family functioning, marital relationships and life satisfaction.
Conclusion: The article calls on public policy and social service personnel to increase public awareness of the significance of polygamous family structures for women’s wellbeing.
The Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 148, Number 6 / December 2008
Psychosocial and Familial Functioning of Children From Polygynous and Monogamous Families
Alean Al-Krenawi and Vered Slonim-Nevo
A sample of 352 Bedouin Arab children— 174 from monogamous and 178 from polygynous families—participated in this study. The authors used standardized measures to assess the participants’ level of self-esteem, mental health, social functioning, father-child relationships, mother-child relationships, and family functioning. The findings revealed that children from polygynous families reported more mental health and social difficulties as well as poorer school achievement and poorer relationships with their fathers than did their counterparts from monogamous families. In addition, the children from polygynous families rated their families’ functioning and economic status as poorer than did those of monogamous families. Thus, the authors suggest that a polygynous family structure negatively affects the family’s socioeconomic status and interpersonal relationships and impairs the children’s psychological and social functioning. The authors discuss implications for practice and policy.
International Journal of Social Psychiatry, Vol. 52, No. 1, 5-17 (2006)
Behavioral Problems and Scholastic Adjustment among Children from Polygamous and Monogamous Marital Family Structures: Developmental Considerations
Elbedour S, Onwuegbuzie AJ, Alatamin M.
Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies, School of Education, Howard University, Washington, DC 20059, USA.
Participants were 255 3rd-grade children. One hundred fifty-three children came from monogamous families that were characterized by 1 wife (i.e., 1-wife families), and 102 children came from polygamous families consisting of 2 wives (i.e., 2-wife families). Teachers completed the Teacher’s Report Form of the Child Behavior Checklist (T. M. Achenback, 1991). A series of logistic regression analyses, after adjusting for maternal education level, revealed that 2-wife children tended to have higher levels of externalizing problems in general and higher levels of attention problems in particular than did their 1-wife counterparts. Also, 2-wife children had higher rates of school absenteeism and lower levels of overall academic achievement than did 1-wife children.
Women from Polygamous and Monogamous Marriages in an Out-Patient Psychiatric Clinic
Ben-Gurion University, Israel
Female subjects were interviewed using a semi-structured open-ended questionnaire. The subjects were divided into two groups: (1) senior wives in polygamous marriages and (2) wives in monogamous marriages. There was a greater prevalence of various symptoms among polygamous respondents, two of which are of particular interest: low self-esteem and loneliness. Findings also showed a relationship between a high number of female children among polygamous respondents and low self-esteem. Polygamous respondents who thought that they were perceived as old by their husbands also reported low self esteem. In addition, respondents from polygamous marriages reported poor relationships with their husbands. Implications for further research and intervention are discussed.
Transcultural Psychiatry, Vol. 38, No. 2, 187-199 (2001)
Women of Polygamous Marriages in Primary Health Care Centers
Alean Al Krenawi Ph.D Ben Gurion University
ABSTRACT: Clinical implications for working with polygamous families are discussed following a report of research among a sample of 126 women from polygamous marriages who were being seen in primary health care centers. Of these, 94 were senior wives who were followed by another wife in the marriage, and 32 were junior wives, the most recent wife joining the marriage. Data revealed that senior wives reported lower self-esteem as compared to junior wives. Findings also showed that senior wives reported poorer relationships with their husbands compared to their junior counterparts. These factors also contribute to the senior wife’s low self-esteem and marital dissatisfaction.
Contemporary Family Therapy, 21(3), September 1999, Human Sciences Press, Inc. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disorders 1985 Jan >(1):56-58.
Women of Polygamous Marriages in an Inpatient Psychiatric Service in Kuwait.
The practice of polygamy, although varying from culture to culture, is widespread in many areas of the world. In Kuwait, for example, 8 to 12.5% of all marriages contracted are polygamous. Although sociologists and anthropologists, as well as common sense, have suggested that a polygamous marriage may have a negative effect on the wives involved, an extensive literature search failed to uncover any psychiatric research that attempts to examine this situation or objectively delineates possible psychiatric sequelae. The present study was a pilot effort to determine whether Kuwaiti wives of polygamous marriages were disproportionately represented in the inpatient psychiatric as opposed to the general population. A second purpose was to determine the extent of the relationship between psychiatric disorder and marital situation. Preliminary data indicated that the percentage of wives of polygamous marriages was significantly greater in the inpatient psychiatric population than in the general population of Kuwait, as reflected in the 1975 census. 25% of those admitted for inpatient psychiatric treatment in Kuwait between 1975 – 1985 were polygamous wives.(less than 10% of all married women in Kuwait were in polygamous marriages in that time period). In addition, the results suggested a relationship between the nature of psychiatric disorder and the marital situation.
Learning Achievement, Social Adjustment, and Family Conflict among Bedouin-Arab Children from Polygamous and Monogamous Families.
Lightman, Ernie S.; Al-Krenawi, Alean
Compares learning achievement, social adjustment, and family conflict among 146 Bedouin-Arab students from polygamous and monogamous families. Reveals that children from monogamous families had higher levels of learning achievement, and they adjusted better to the school framework. The mean conflict rating was higher for children from polygamous families.
Journal of Social Psychology, v140 n3 p345-55 Jun 2000
Emotional distress and its correlates among Nigerian women in late pregnancy
A cross-sectional study was carried out in a Teaching Hospital to compare women in late pregnancy and matched controls for emotional distress. Each of the 156 pregnant women was matched with a control and studied to determine the relationship of some obstetric and sociodemographic factors with anxiety and depression. All the subjects were evaluated using the state form of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-state) and the Zung’s Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS), which are standardised instruments for assessing depression and anxiety, respectively. The pregnant women had significantly higher levels of anxiety and higher levels of depression than their non-pregnant controls. Four of the factors evaluated (age, level of education, socio-economic status and parity) were not found to be significantly related to anxiety or depression among the pregnant women. However, four other factors, i.e. polygamy, previous abortions, mode of previous delivery (caesarean section and instrumentally-assisted delivery) and previous puerperal complications had positive and significant associations with anxiety and depression. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Taken from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
1 Department of Mental Health, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Address for correspondence: FO, Fatoye, Department of Mental Health, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria fofatoye @yahoo.com
Socio-demographic correlates of psychiatric morbidity among low-income women in Aleppo, Syria
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Wasim Maziak, , a, Taghrid Asfarb, Fawaz Mzayekc, Fouad M Fouadd and Nael Kilziehe
e Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Washington, VAPSHCS, Mental Health Service (116-M), American Lake Division, Tacoma, WA 98493, USA
Available online 25 March 2002.
Interest in mental morbidity as an important component of health is increasing worldwide. Women generally suffer more than men from common mental disorders, and discrimination against women adds to their mental sufferings. Studies looking into the socio-demographic correlates of women’s mental morbidity are lacking in most Arab countries. In this study we wanted to determine the spread and socio-demographic correlates of mental distress among low-income women in Aleppo, Syria. A sample of 412 women was recruited from 8 randomly selected primary care centers in Aleppo. Response rate was 97.2%, mean age of participants 28+8.4 years, where married women constituted 87.9%. A special questionnaire was prepared for the study purpose, utilizing the SRQ-20 non-psychotic items and questions about background information considered relevant to the mental health of women in the studied population. Interviews were conducted in an anonymous one-to-one fashion. The prevalence of psychiatric distress in our sample was 55.6%. Predictors of women’s mental health in the logistic regression analysis were; physical abuse, women’s education, polygamy, residence, age and age of marriage. Among these predictors, women’s illiteracy, polygamy and physical abuse were the strongest determinants of mental distress leading to the worse outcomes. Our data show that mental distress is common in the studied population and that it is strongly associated with few, possibly modifiable, factors.
Family therapy in polygamous families
Volume 54, Issue 9, May 2002, Pages 1419-1427
Psychosom 1981 Apr-JunPO
Patients from polygamous families are over-represented in the Enugu Psychiatric Hospital. The authors came to this conclusion after case notes from 116 anxiety neurotic, 101 schizophrenic and 117 depressive patients were examined. The patients were treated from 1970 to 1979. Polygamy was shortly described with its advantages and disadvantages. Competition between the wives, over-burdening of the husband and often poor care of the children represent the background for the symptoms of the patients, who come from such families. Looking for useful therapeutic methods the method of the natives to solve family quarrels were viewed. Making use of psychoanalytic therapy models especially as represented by Dührssen, Richter and Toman a family therapy model was presented which takes the native judgment model into consideration.
Mental health aspects of Turkish women from polygamous versus monogamous families.
J Soc Psychiatry. (ISSN: 0020-7640) University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Diyarbakir, Turkey.
BACKGROUND: Polygamy is illegal in Turkey, but is common among rural villagers in the southeastern region. Polygamous marriage may have a negative effect on the wives involved. AIM: The purpose of this study was to determine the extent of the relationship between psychiatric disorder and polygamous marriage. METHOD: The mental status of 42 senior and 46 junior wives from polygamous marriages and 50 wives from monogamous marriages was evaluated using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) and Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (SDQ). RESULTS: There was a statistically significant difference among senior, junior and monogamous wives in terms of the prevalence of somatization disorder. The prevalence of somatization disorder was the highest in polygamous senior wives. The mean total SDQ scores differed significantly among the three groups. It was the highest in senior wives. CONCLUSIONS: It is clear that the participants from polygamous families, especially senior wives, reported more psychological distress. It is essential to increase awareness of the significance of polygamous family structures among psychiatrists and other therapists.
Mental health aspects of Arab-Israeli adolescents from polygamous versus monogamous families.
J Soc Psychol. 2002; 142(4):446-60 Krenawi A; Graham JR; Slonim-Nevo, V.
The authors considered the mental health consequences of polygamy in a sample of 101 Arab Muslim adolescents (19 from polygamous and 82 from monogamous families) at Juarish (Ramla), Israel. The respondents completed the Self-Esteem Scale (SE; M. Rosenberg, 1979), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; L. Derogatis & N. Melsavados, 1983; L. Derogatis & P. Spencer, 1982), and the McMaster Family Assessment Device (FAD; N. B. Epstein, M. N. Baldwin, & D. S. Bishop, 1983). The respondents from polygamous families had lower SE scores, statistically significant higher scores in 2 BSI dimensions, higher scores in all other BSI dimensions, andThe psychosocial profile of Bedouin Arab women living in polygamous and monogamous marriages.
Author: Al-Krenawi A; Slonim-Nevo V
Source: Families in Society. 2008 Jan-Mar; 89 (1):139-149.
Abstract: This study examining the psychosocial profile of Bedouin Arab Women living in polygamous and monogamous marriages found that women in polygamous marriages reported lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of somatization, depression, anxiety, hostility, paranoid ideation, more problematic family functioning, less marital satisfaction, and more problematic mother-child relationships than women in monogamous marriages. The sample consisted of 315 women, 156 from polygamous and 159 from monogamous families. The respondents completed the Self-Esteem scale (SE), The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), The McMaster Family Assessment Device (FAD), The Enrich questionnaire and the Index of Parental Attitudes. The polygamous family structure and the economic difficulties apparently constitutes a substantial contribution to the polygamous household’s impaired family functioning.
Factors associated with depressive symptoms among postnatal women in Nepal
Signe Dørheim Ho-Yen, Gunnar Tschudi Bondevik, Malin Eberhard-Gran, Bjørn Bjorvatn
Background. Depression after childbirth affects both the mother and her infant. In South-Asia, maternal depression might also contribute to poor infant growth. Knowledge of risk factors could improve the health workers’ recognition of depression. Aim. To examine possible risk factors for depression in the postnatal period among women in one clinical, one urban and one rural population in Lalitpur district, Nepal. Method. A total of 426 postnatal women were included in a cross-sectional structured interview study, 5–10 weeks after delivery. Depressive symptoms were measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale [EPDS]. Results. Multivariate analysis showed that depression (EPDS >12) was strongly associated with husband’s alcoholism, polygamy and previous depression. Other significant factors were stressful life events, multiparity, smoking and depression during pregnancy. There was a non-significant trend of lower depressive scores among women living in arranged marriages, and among women practicing the tradition of staying in their maternal home after delivery.
1. Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Section for General Practice, University of Bergen, Norway 2. Division of Psychiatry, Stavanger University Hospital, Norway 3. Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norway † Correspondence: Signe Dørheim Ho-Yen, Division of Psychiatry, Stavanger University Hospital, PO Box 8100, NO-4068, Stavanger, Norway sdhy@ sus.no
Taken from :
Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
2007, Vol. 86, No. 3, Pages 291-297
Factors influencing the quality of life of infertile women in United Arab Emirates
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G. M. KhayataCorresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, a, D. E. E. Rizkb, M. Y. Hasanc, S. Ghazal-Aswadb and M. A. N. Asaada
Objectives: To measure the quality of life in a representative sample of infertile women and evaluate their sociocultural attitude to this condition. Methods: Two hundred sixty-nine infertile women attending the Assisted Reproduction clinic, Tawam Hospital were consecutively selected. They were interviewed about the effect of infertility on their quality of life using a structured, measurement-specific and pre-tested questionnaire. Results: Parameters mostly affected were mood-related mainly in women 30 years old, with primary and female factor infertility and those in polygamous marriages expressing higher levels of dissatisfaction. Quality of life did not affect sexual performance and was not affected by duration of infertility or cost of treatment. Conclusion: The results highlight the importance of bearing children and the stresses exerted on infertile women in Eastern societies. Thorough counseling and continuing support of infertile women is therefore indicated to improve their quality of life.
a. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tawam Hospital, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates b. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates c. Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates
Violence against women
Author: Maziak W
Source: Lancet. 2002 Jul 27;360:343-344.
Abstract: In this letter to the editor, Wasim Maziak commends the publishing of articles on violence against women, given this issue of The Lancet on the serious implications of women’s health and well- being. Maziak also details findings of a study on 412 Syrian women. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are mentioned as the most frequent mental health sequelae of intimate- partner violence. Women of polygamous marriages were 2·3 times more likely to report physical abuse than were women in monogamous marriages in Syria.
Psychiatric morbidity and its sociodemographic correlates among women in Irbid, Jordan
T.K. Daradkeh,1 A. Alawan,2 R. Al Ma’aitah3 and S.A. Otoom4
A total of 2000 women participated in the project. Their ages ranged from 18 to 85 years with a mean of 32.1 years
The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) was the first mental health diagnostic test that could be entirely self-administered by the patient and is 85% effective in suggesting the presence of a mental health problem . The physician applies algorithms to make the final diagnosis and the PHQ simplifies the differential diagnosis by assessing only 8 disorders. These are divided into “threshold disorders” corresponding to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) diagnoses (e.g. major depression, panic disorders, other anxiety and bulimia nervosa) and “subthreshold disorders” (e.g. other depressive disorders, probable alcohol abuse, and somatoform and binge-eating disorders). If a patient scores positive for any problems they are asked: “How difficult have these problems made it for you to do your work, take care of things at home, or get along with other people?”
Our findings with regard to the prevalence of mental disorders in polygamous marriages showed an interesting pattern. Overall, 42.9% of women in polygamous marriages suffered mental disorders compared with 26.7% of first and only wives. Further analysis suggested that polygamous marriage has a very deleterious effect on mental health for second wives. We have no clear explanation for such observations. Our results provide strong evidence for the deleterious effect of this practice on women consenting to be the second wife in already established marriages.
Taken from: The World Health Organization : The Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal Volume 12, Supplement 2 (electronic)